HKQ Kids

Choking Hazards

What do a battery, a piece of chewing gum, and a nickel have in common? If you ask a few parents of young kids, the answer couldn’t be more obvious: they’re all things they’ll try to put in their mouths. Choking is a very real and incredibly dangerous outcome of this curiosity, but you can take precautions to prevent choking, and you can be prepared in the event that it does happen.

  • Keep small objects away from your child. Items like coins, pen caps, hair accessories, and jewelry are common targets. Kids are creative, so the list obviously doesn’t end there. Keep in mind that this isn’t limited to your child’s immediate space; once they start crawling and walking, you’ll need to take extra caution that there’s nothing hazardous in their reach.
  • Pay attention to the toys your child is playing with. The warning labels on a toy’s packaging are there for a reason. If the box indicates “for ages 3 and up,” take that message seriously. It’s also a good idea to be wary of any toys that have been recalled. HKQ publishes recalls on our Facebook page, as well as an annual “Trouble in Toyland” report, every year right around Thanksgiving. Additionally, you can purchase a “small parts/choke tester” which is specifically designed to show what can be choking hazard for a young child.
  • Uninflated latex balloons are one of the primary causes of choking deaths in not just toddlers, but grade school-age children as well. As objects that are smooth and often colorful, kids are drawn to latex balloons, and it doesn’t help that they might be trying to inflate them. Latex balloons can be easily inhaled and choked on.

Some children aren’t as curious or might be quicker to grow out of putting small objects in their mouths. However, everyone has to eat, and unfortunately, many choking deaths are caused by food; according to the New York State Department of Health, a child dies of a food-related choking incident every five days in the U.S. There are some precautions you can take and foods you can avoid that may help prevent your child from choking on food.

  • Your younger child’s meals and snacks should be supervised at all times. Beyond teaching your kid to chew his or her food well, you should have rules too: only eat when sitting up, and definitely not while running or lying down. Eating in the car can be dangerous as well; it’s harder to notice choking and it can take longer to attend to your child if he or she needs help. Remember to let your child take their time when eating as well.
  • Avoid certain foods like grapes, nuts, popcorn, larger pieces of raw fruits or vegetables, hard candies, gum, and hot dogs. Foods like grapes and hotdogs can be made safer for eating; cut grapes lengthwise and cut hotdogs and other food into pieces no bigger than one half-inch to ensure they don’t get caught in your child’s throat if swallowed whole.
  • Ask your pediatrician about foods to avoid and special ways to prepare food for your kids according to their age.

In the event that your child begins to choke, you must act quickly. Calling 911 is the first step you should take; in the meantime, perform the Heimlich maneuver and/or CPR. If you’re not trained in these techniques, you can learn them and get CPR certified at the nearest Red Cross. Knowing these skills can save your child’s life, as well as the life of anyone of any age who may be choking and may need help.

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